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TOPIC: December 2008


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December 2008
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December 2008



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What's Up This Month - December 2008

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the sky darkens early and deeply this time of year. We can get a full night of observing in and still get to sleep at a decent time. But don't envy us, you in the southern hemisphere, because it's getting cold here and the long-term forecast is for a tough winter. I've never enjoyed Christmas in the southern summer before. But after forty-four Canadian winters, I'm starting to think it might be nice to give one a try.
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Jupiter and Venus have begun December in conjunction and if all goes well, the two planets are bound to light up the southwestern sky at dusk on the first of December.
Venus is usually visible at ultra bright magnitude (negative fourth), whereas Jupiter can be spotted at negative second magnitude. The former planet sets after 8 p.m., while the latter, before 6 p.m.
At the end of the month, Venus and Jupiter will be joined by Mercury, visible at zero magnitude, in conjunction with the planetary duo, and will be positioned at Jupiters right.
Nevertheless, this is not the only event of the like that will take place this first winter month, since on December 12, the full moon is set to be the closest to Earth since 1993, 221,554 miles away from our planet. The moon will not come this close to Earth again until 2016.
Belgian astronomer and mathematician Jean Meeus has revealed that on January 1st, 2257, the full moon would come even closer than this year, at 221,439 miles.
This footage was taken with the main telescope at BCO on December 1st 2008. It shows Venus disappearing behind the dark side of the Moon and subsequently re-appearing from behind the Moon.

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Over the last week the two planets moved closer together so that they appeared no more than two degrees apart, which equates to a finger's width when held out at arm's length.
As they were joined by the moon on Monday night photographers around the world from Bangkok to Kenya captured the image.
The moon is the brightest, closest and smallest of the three and is 252,000 miles away. Venus, the second brightest, closest and smallest, is 94 million miles away, while Jupiter is 540 million miles away.
The three celestial objects come together from time to time, but often they are too close to the sun or unite at a time when they are less visible.
The next time the three will be as close and visible as this week will be Nov 18, 2052, according to Jack Horkheimer, director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium.

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Jupiter, Venus, moon together - The next time the three will be as close and visible as this week will be Nov. 18, 2052.
Look in the southwestern sky

-- Edited by Blobrana at 11:23, 2008-11-29

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A rare cosmic alignment on Monday will produce a smiling face - or an emoticon, depending on your generation - high over the country.
From soon after 8pm until just before 11pm the planets Venus and Jupiter will stare down from the western sky like two brilliant eyes. Directly below, the crescent moon will form a happy mouth.

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Planetary conjunctions are quite spectacular to view, it all happens when the planets and/or moon seem to come quite close to each other in the morning or evening skies.
You dont even need a telescope to view them; all you need is your eyes or better still use binoculars.
December hosts a couple of nice planetary conjunctions, starting on Monday, December 1 with a beautiful trio of the three-day-old moon, Venus and Jupiter. Venus is the brightest of the pair of planets.

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Look to the southwest after sunset on Dec. 1 for a close conjunction between three bright solar system objects: the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter. If you have binoculars, you might even be able to fit all three of them in the field of view. Between now and then, you can see Jupiter and Venus getting closer together each evening.

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